GUNS AND KIDS : examining a design, place and social innovation studio – DESIS-Lab studio at School of Design, Carnegie Mellon University

Commencement date: 2013
Project status: Completed
Partners: Faulk Foundation and Citizens for Safer PA


Pages from ResearchMethod_E&D_0

This studio course is one of the Senior Labs in the Spring Semester (Jan – May) 2013 in the School of Design at Carnegie Mellon University. The context for the studio was first proposed in October 2012. At that stage guns were an issue in the USA, but nothing like the high profile social phenomenon — in everyone’s context — that they became post the Newtown Shootings, Dec 16, 2012. The students that elected to take this course did so initially out of an interest in design for social innovation, social change and sustainability. The topic of guns was secondary at that time. That changed with the shooting. Guns were no longer just a part of American life – they were a design issue to be explored. As such in this course we are explored two phenomena: guns and their social meaning and impact and, design’s social and material capacity to enable place-based transformation.

The students who participated in this course were a mix of communication and industrial designers. This was their last studio course before graduating in May. The catalyst for the course was a request by a local advocacy group who wanted to know if we could run a design studio that would help them argue for social change. They were thinking a new range of brochures. As we discussed the course and what design could do, they were told that a new brochure design was possible but not guaranteed. These students wanted to explore design further. As we worked our way through the semester students explored the issue through the frameworks of:

  • Human Centred Design
  • Information Design
  • Design Futures

The outcomes is a design resource book – a reference guide for other designers to use regarding different approaches that design can take when dealing with really wicked social phenomena.

images should be credited to the CMU DP&SI Seniors Studio Spring 2013

File: Design Place Social Innovation_Book

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Design, When Everybody Designs by Ezio Manzini
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